Alex Giannascoli (Alex G) began his musical career by recording with a dinky USB mic and mastering his albums on GarageBand. Now, he is signed to world-famous record label Domino, working alongside indie giants such as Arctic Monkeys, Animal Collective and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Giannascoli started his career at 16, releasing countless albums and singles on his Bandcamp page featuring crude-but-glorious MS Paint cover arts and one-word song titles. He only really started to gain traction with his 2014 release “DSU” on the label Orchid Tapes.
Alex G’s popularity skyrocketed in the indie community, and he began touring with other artists such as Teen Suicide and Frankie Cosmos. “DSU” featured thirteen warped, adolescent, snappy tracks. Then, Alex G announced the arrival of his next full length record “Beach Music.”
Many were expecting more of the same from Giannascoli. All efforts before DSU generally had the same format of songwriting. “Beach Music” provides a taste of these familiar elements while also masterfully introducing the extent of his musical palette, ranging from the hypnagogic vibe in “Salt” to the saddest trumpet you’ll ever hear in “In Love.”
While the instrumentation of the album is relatively simple, the atmosphere is undeniably complex. Dreamy guitars combined with the sometimes baritone and occasionally completely distorted vocals allow each track to stand out from the rest. “Look Out” employs drum loops and synth pads to lead Alex G as he solemnly sings, “When I say, ‘Look out for him,’ what I really mean is look out for me,” in a familiar falsetto.
A complete reversal of sound leads to the bummed-out and pleading “Brite Boy,” where Alex appears to have a conversation with himself. The song reads as a youthful lust for love that is ultimately curbed and left out to dry.
Each track on “Beach Music” has a charm of its own. The lead single “Bug” has Alex G’s old fans in mind. The track’s guitar pays homage to older albums “Trick” and “Race” in its easy to follow and addicting melody, while also returning to the otherworldly high-pitched modulation of a voice ridden on “DSU.” “Bug” manages to be the manifestation of all the elements that have made Alex G’s music successful thus far.
“Kicker” is another standout cut from the record. Hearty downstrokes on Alex’s guitar help bring out some of the best lyricism of the album: “Heaven, maybe freedom. What’s the word? Right, I forgot. Quiet is the closest thing we got.” These lines are a solid summation of the album as a whole. When things break, reprieve is the best thing we can hope for: a general aphorism that fuels Alex both on this record and for the majority of his career.
Alex Giannascoli manages to pull influences from every corner of music. Dusky jazz, waltz, dream pop and straightforward indie rock all come together to make something bleak and gritty at times, but ultimately beautiful and hopeful. “Beach Music” greets the unexpecting listener with another rung of experimentation up the ladder of Alex G’s audio capability.